Lift Weights Less for Optimal Muscle Training
By Chess McDoogle
An important ingredient to optimal muscle training is rest. A simple way to think about it is that your muscles don't grow in the gym, they grow while your resting and recovering. Too many trainees have the attitude that the more time they spend in the gym the more muscle they will build, and the greater effect their so called optimal muscle training program will have.
Q: Why is spending more time in the gym actually LESS effective?
A: Because in most cases you will actually build less muscle! And the muscle you do build is done so at a very slow rate, due to the fact that you are continually interrupting the recovery process. If your optimal muscle training routine has you continually breaking down your muscles, and wearing down your body's own recuperative process, then this does very little if nothing for growth to occur. Training hard every day, continually triggering or firing your muscles, but never allowing the muscle building rest they need, and deserve, does not give them the opportunity to recover and build back up. Instead they are again pounded upon the next day (or even the same day for those trainees engaged in the non productive practice of twice daily training) thus interfering with the growth and recovery process, leading to ineffective optimal muscle training.
Q: Then how come a lot of the "big guys" at the gym train every day and are getting results?
A: There are indeed a number of individuals who do well with everyday workouts and find this to be the optimal muscle training for them. These individuals tend to either be young, having just begun their muscle building journey, or they have incredible recovery capabilities, and above average genetics for muscle building, or they are taking performance enhancement drugs to greatly aid in their body's recovery abilities. These individuals can get away with everyday, frequent workouts, as their optimal muscle training, while packing on the muscle to boot. But for the young trainees, as they build more muscle there tends to come a point where in order to continue their muscle building progress they will need to adapt their optimal muscle training routine by decreasing their workout frequency and allowing for greater recovery time.
Q: So then what is an optimal muscle training routine for a natural trainee with average to poor genetics?
A: An optimal muscle training routine to begin with is a standard 3 day a week regimen. Training each body part once a week, splitting the body three ways. For instance , Monday could be chest, shoulders, and triceps. Wednesday could look like Back and Biceps. And Friday would be Legs, or as us hardcore dungeon lifters refer to, "Dreaded Leg Day". From this point the trainee can determine his level of recovery ability, while still building muscle. The routine does not overly tax recovery ability and at the same time the muscles are being worked frequently.
Q: Ok, but how do i further dial in my optimal muscle training to figure out the right number of rest days between workouts and avoid overtraining?
A: By monitoring ones lifts through the use of a training log, the trainee can figure out an optimal muscle training routine. The trainee can see his progress and determine whether extra rest days are needed or perhaps more frequent workouts could be tolerated, or the body could be split in a different fashion. If the trainee records the amount of weight he uses for a exercise, then the amount of reps he performs, he can compare those numbers to future workouts. If he is getting stronger, his optimal muscle training is on course. But if he is getting weaker or his numbers remain the same or only are climbing by a rep or two, then he needs to re-adjust his optimal muscle training to better suit his own personal recovery ability, and hence grow stronger in the gym, and grow larger during his rest!
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